Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hope in Maturity (in spite of myself!)

 1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away! For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when COMPLETENESS COMES, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a (dim) reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; THEN I shall know fully, even as I am fully known...
 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  

The older I get, I tend to not look at things the same way as when I was younger. This is true in matters of my faith in God as well. Like the idea that God cannot (WILL NOT) be contained in a single denomination nor a "Set and Perfect Doctrine" or certain understanding of Scripture.

 I would and do get very frustrated at the whole "keeping a system of works to keep your place with Jesus" and "you "HAVE" to go to church and/or be a part of a small group fellowship to remain a "good" Christian"... and,  "The priest, bishop, pastor or elder is JUST LIKE God, is way smarter than we are, and really knows everything. So we have to follow him and believe what he says over anyone else (maybe even God) and NEVER question it!"    

Now, I say all these things and people think I HATE Christianity or church or pastors or that I wish to be rebellious and a troublemaker.  That is just NOT TRUE. It's just that I have known Jesus since I was very young, and I'm just not "buying" certain things anymore that really don't sound like the Loving Father I have come to know in my 43 short years of life. I have studied my bible diligently since I was 18 and kind of feel that I have the ability to have a few opinions and some questions and not be ashamed of them.

Mostly what I am finding is that my faith can be summed up in that verse that I listed above.  That LOVE... really is the "greatest of these."  I find that church people are not liking all the "love" talk that is going around lately.  They are afraid that if you don't give all the "HAVE TOs" along with the message of Jesus' Love, mercy and grace, that it's a "Slippery Slope."  (I seriously have heard the "Slippery Slope statement" one too many times in my life!) I have come to set my feet on The Rock... Jesus Christ (God in flesh) and the life He gave which showed the world just HOW MUCH He loves us!

I will tell you that thinking your relationship with Him is based on your works or your "perfectly hammered out doctrine" or the church you belong to... can be JUST AS MUCH of a slippery slope as "issues of sin"! Jesus talked often about what a heavy yoke religion and tedious systems can be.  Just read what He had to say to the Pharisees and the people who followed their teachings about how dangerous their "yeast" was! 

I think of Jesus'  total disdain for religion when He said (and was quoting the Old Testament no less),  "These people honor me with their lips, but their HEARTS are far from Me.  They worship me in vain.  Their teachings are but rules taught by men!" I feel this is as relevant today as it was when Jesus said it and Isaiah "penned" it many many years ago!

All of this is NOT new thinking to me. I have felt this to be the call of my heart even way back in my early 20's in bible school! New Tribes Bible Institute, or as we affectionately called it on the women's dorm,  "New Brides Bridal Institute."  We were constantly bombarded with the "Great Commission" To "GO YE" and preach the Gospel to the world. It was a very strong unspoken rule at this school that really EVERY ONE was "called" to go and be a foreign missionary.  So people like me who really didn't have a strong desire to do this and had trouble with leaving their family were actually quite "fleshly"! I learned a lot from Bible School and much of it was very, very good.  But I also learned to think for myself and trust the voice of God in my heart that many times went "against" the Status Quo. 
Now, please spare me the whole... "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" phrase.  I GET that. All these things or "good works" are NOT evil. They all can be VERY GOOD THINGS when Jesus is in charge of them more than "human agenda"... but I very strongly believe that some of these things can be a total detour from Jesus who is calling us to know Him and His love for us.  Jesus came AS the BABY!!!  And HE threw out the religious water to give us LIVING WATER!  (See conversation He had with Samaritan Woman at the well) ... it's in your bible.

You know, I don't EXPECT people to be like me...I am not looking for fame or to create some following. When people possibly see Jesus in me, that is AN HONOR, but that is NOT my purpose in life. To me, "making a disciple" means I lead them TO Jesus, so that they can become a follower of Him, not teach them to see Jesus in EXACTLY the way I do. Because guess what, I don't HAVE all the answers. I also know it won't be long before they see the many, many flaws of me and any system I may present! I wouldn't ever want anyone to turn me into their own personal Jesus!  (80's song! haha)  I would like them to seek HIM for themselves! 
  Because those who SEEK... WILL FIND! Jesus said that... Luke 11:10
"For everyone who asks receives, the one who SEEKS WILL FIND, and to the one who knocks, the door WILL be opened."  I believe that.  
You... don't HAVE to believe that if you don't want to.

I believe we are ALL hungering for REAL Love and Acceptance and Grace and Joy and Peace.  Jesus came to BRING JUST THAT! Really! No strings attached other than TAKING it and only the Father knows those who are His! (2nd Timothy).  

All this to say, that I realize I am still growing too!! I DO NOT have it "all figured out" and actually, I PRAY I never feel I do!! We are ALL growing and maturing. My thought is, it's either going to be toward Jesus or away from Jesus.  But I don't have to worry about YOUR growth... only mine.  My HOPE is in the SUN.. (Son) who helps me to grow and the Living Water that He gives me each day!

1 Corinthians 1:8 HE will also keep you FIRM to the END, so that you will be blameless on the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ!!! 

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We have this Hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Hebrews 6:19